Check Your Wallet. This Penny is Worth Over $1,700,000
Learn how to spot rare and valuable pennies you may have by simply checking in your wallet. Coming up are some rare coins that could make you a fortune!Money
Not all coins are made equally. A 1 cent coin could be worth millions of dollars if you know what to look for. From dollars, to euros and pounds, learning the information in this article might just make you rich. So, break open your piggy bank, empty your wallet, and check down the side of the sofa because some of these valuable pennies are worth a small fortune!
US 1 Cent Coin
Coins are produced by industrial ‘minting’ facilities which press designs in large quantities, but occasionally errors in the printing process create anomalies that become rare collectibles. In 1995, a misprint of the US penny meant thousands of cents were printed with a slight doubling of the letters in the word ‘liberty’ on the coin’s reverse.
This blurred ‘double-die’ error occurs when a design-die is improperly manufactured, and the 1995 double-die penny is now worth around $50 apiece. In 1972, a more extreme double-die cent was accidentally produced as part of the Lincoln memorial series where the lettering overlaps entirely giving it a 3D appearance.
Around 75,000 of these coins were produced and, although counterfeits were also circulated, finding a genuine example in your pocket change could score up to $500.
The double-die effect isn’t the only coinage error that could earn a healthy profit on your unwanted cents. In 1999 the US mint produced two varieties of the Lincoln memorial penny: the ‘close AM’ and ‘wide AM’ variety, which reference the spacing of the letters A & M in the phrase ‘United States of America’.
Although the almost-touching A&M variety is fairly common, only a few hundred widely-spaced AM coins are still in circulation and are worth up to $500, provided they’re definitely from 1999.
The ‘1992 close AM penny’ is even more valuable for the opposite reason. In 1992 most cents had the ‘wide AM’ design because the ‘close AM’ wasn’t intended for production until the following year, but in a mix-up, a number of Lincoln cents with distinctly close A & M lettering were accidentally released early and are now considered rare.
Since this error is subtle and harder to spot in loose change, not many have been found, and in 2012 an uncirculated coin sold for over $20,000 at an auction. If you happen to find one, where the A&M should be touching at the bottom and the date imprint is 1992, you’re in luck, as circulated examples can still sell for over $6000.
The profit you can make on a single penny is astounding, and some cents are worth instant bucks. In 1977, an error in the printing dies caused a large batch of pennies to be printed showing President Lincoln with an extra ear lobe, which can now fetch up to $250 apiece.
That’s far from the biggest earner though, as the 1969 ‘S’ Lincoln penny with a double-die obverse is so rare that each coin is worth up to $35,000, and in 2008 one even sold at auction for $126,500.
This notorious coin can be identified by its exceptionally strong doubling on all lettering and the outside of the coin caused by a mismatched die, alongside an ‘S’ mint mark for San Francisco under 1969.
When the error was first discovered in 1970 scammers began producing counterfeits, and eventually the Secret Service seized all coins of its type, including legitimate examples. Nowadays experts estimate that the number of known specimens is only about 40 or 50, but there are still some left to be found.
One of the most sought-after cents is the 1943 Lincoln head copper penny, which looks fairly ordinary at first glance.
In 1943 US pennies were coated in zinc as copper was required for the war effort, but an accidental batch of some 40 copper-coated cents was accidentally released when copper blanks remained in the press.
Although fakes were circulated to try and cash in on the coin’s rarity, these 1943 copper cents do occasionally turn up in people’s change and can command $10,000 even in poor conditions.
In 2010, a mint-condition 1943 copper-alloy penny sold at auction for a staggering $1.7M, so it’s definitely worth paying attention: if it’s definitely copper and clearly dated 1943, you might be sitting on a goldmine.
In 2005, the U.S. Mint resurrected the bison reverse design on the Jefferson nickel, but an unfortunate error meant that around 900 of these new nickels were misprinted with what looks like a spear running straight through the bison’s belly.
The mistake was caused by a deep scratch or ‘gouge’ in the die which was rectified after the error was discovered. Within a couple of days, these ‘speared bison nickels’ were already selling for well over $100, and in 2010 one of these rare coins fetched $1,250 at auction.
One of the rarest and most valuable of all nickels is the 1913 Liberty head nickel, which made headlines in 2018 when one sold for $4.5 million at a Philadelphia public auction. Only 5 known specimens have now been found and sold, but officials believe there is at least a 6th out there. Check your wallet, maybe you have it.
The Roosevelt Dime is the latest dime in circulation, and it has been that way since 1946 when it was released to commemorate the former president’s death in 1945. When the 1965 Coinage Act changed the dime’s composition to 75% copper and 25% nickel alloy, all silver dimes were phased out entirely. And since then their value has skyrocketed.
Only a few originals have been found in people’s personal collections, each fetching around $9000 at an auction, but numismatists are optimistic that there are many more waiting to be discovered. If the coin has a silver edge it’s a winner, but if it’s silver with a brown strip it’s likely a less-valuable cupronickel dime.
Since 1980 all US coins, excluding cents, are printed with a distinct ‘mint mark’ above the date which distinguishes the city where they were printed: ‘P’ for Philadelphia, ‘D’ means Denver, ‘S’ is San Francisco, and so on.
However, in 1982 an anomaly occurred when the Philadelphia mint accidentally released thousands of dimes with no mint mark, making them the first of this kind. These ‘missing mintmark’ Roosevelt dimes are now worth hundreds of times more than their original face value at around $300 at auction, and although around 8000-10,000 were found in Sandusky, Ohio, there are plenty more out there.
In 2005, an amusing mistake in the printing of Kansas state quarters meant that the signature ‘In God We Trust’ inscription that appears on every US coin read ‘In God We Rust’ instead. This occurred due to a build-up of grease on the surface of the coin die, which covered the letter T as it was ‘struck’ on the coin's surface, and collectors will now pay up to $100 apiece.
Another strangely valuable quarter, known as the 2001 ‘double-struck’ quarter, should be easy enough to spot because it looks like two overlapping coins, which occurred when they were accidentally struck twice by the printing machine.
Most of these unsightly error-coins were intercepted before they could be mass distributed, but a few still ended up in circulation and their value is now an estimated $3000 apiece.
In 2004 the state of Wisconsin minted over 453 million quarters featuring an image of a cow, a cheese wheel, and an ear of corn with four distinct leaves on its reverse. By 2005, word spread that there were two more varieties of the coin in circulation, each featuring an extra corn leaf: an “Extra Leaf High ” and “Extra Leaf Low” type.
These extra ‘leaves’ were likely criminally added to a working die using tools lying around the minting factory. Around 2000 low and 3000 high leaf coins were released into circulation, mostly in southern Arizona and Western Texas, and are now worth a minimum of $300 each, although some have sold at auction for up to $1400.
US 1 Dollar Coin
In 2007 speculation that the government had ordered ‘In God We Trust’ to be removed from all US coins began after a number of commemorative ‘presidential dollar’ $1 coins turned up without the phrase. In reality, this was caused by a printing anomaly at the Philadelphia mint, not a deliberate effort to erase God from American currency.
The defect was easily rectified, but thousands of ‘godless dollars’ still remain in circulation today, and they can each fetch around $300 on eBay, so keep an eye out for that missing lettering.
Perhaps the rarest US dollar, though, is the 1804 ‘draped bust silver dollar class 1’ which is sometimes referred to as the ‘king of coins’ and has sold at auction for both $3.7 million and $4.1 million.
Production of this 19th-century coin was halted in 1904 by President Thomas Jefferson after they were being illegally exported to the Caribbean and traded for the heavier Spanish 8 Reales silver coin for profit. There are now just 15 known originals in existence and only two have been found, meaning the rest could be stashed away in personal collections.
UK 2p Piece
Although not as prolific, the UK also has its fair share of rare and valuable coins. After decimal coinage was first introduced in 1971, the standard 2-pence piece originally featured the words ‘New Pence’ on its obverse, but since 1981 this was replaced by the phrase ‘Two Pence’.
However, in 1983 a mistake meant that a number of coins were struck using the old die, and these anomaly coins can now fetch between £500-£1000 online, as long as they were issued in 1983.
An even rarer 2p piece exists, though, and it looks oddly like the standard British 10p. This ‘Silver 2p’ was accidentally struck with a nickel-plated finish at the Royal Mint after cupronickel blanks were left inside the machine.
Quality control overlooked the issue and a number of them were released before being switched back to the standard coin, and on two occasions in 2014 and 2016 they sold for over £1300. Due to their unexpectedly shiny appearance, these rare coins are sometimes mistaken as fakes and thrown away, so you should definitely keep an eye out.
UK 20p Piece
In 2008 thousands of UK 20p coins were incorrectly minted without a year of issue after the previous ‘heads’ side die was used with the new ‘tails’ reverse die.
The problem affected less than 250,000 of the 136 million 20p pieces minted between 2008 and 2009, and their value has increased steadily in the years since. If you find one of these ‘dateless’ 20p’s, you could be looking at a nice sum of around £200 on eBay.
UK 50p Piece
Many commemorative versions of the 50p piece have been released over the years and some are now worth significantly more than their original value. The 2009 Kew Gardens 50p, for the nation’s famous royal botanical garden, is arguably the most sought-after by collectors as just 210,000 were released into circulation.
The coin's low mintage means that well-kept pieces are now worth around 500 times their original value and can sell for up to £250 online. If you happen to have any 2012 Olympic sports commemorative 50p coins you could be in luck, because the aquatic sports coin could be worth up to £3,000.
When it was first released in packs it showed a swimmer seemingly underwater, but the coins in general circulation no longer had watery lines covering her face, making the ‘original’ design incredibly rare.
EU €2 Coin
There are plenty of Euros worth a pretty penny, too. A special ‘Henri & Adolphe’ €2 coin made to commemorate the 50th birthday of Luxembourg’s Grand Duke Henri and the 100th Anniversary of Grand of the death of Grand Duke Adolphe is especially rare. A maximum of 2.8 million were minted in Finland, and collectors will now pay around $150 apiece.
Another €2 coin designed to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the death of Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco has become well sought-after due to its low mintage of 20,001. Its value has increased each year, and most recently the asking price of this limited-edition coin has been estimated at around $2,200.
When the Greek national currency feared it would not be able to mint enough coins after the euro was introduced in 2002 it called on the Finnish institute to help produce some 75 million coins.
Each €2 piece features the same scene from classic Greek mythology, but any pieces minted by Finland were struck with a ‘S’ in one of the stars at the bottom. If you come across one of these, you could be looking at a starting price of between $500 and thousands.
Finally, Germany’s brightly colored series of collectors’ coins which began in 2017 and feature translucent red, orange, or green rings to represent tropical, subtropical, and temperate climate zones might be worth holding onto. These €5 coins have already been sold in batches of 5 for $250 and singularly for $50!
I hope you were amazed at these rare collector's coins and valuable pennies that are worth much more than their original value. Thanks for reading!